East Timor (Timor Lesté) is a new country. In a dangerous 1999 UN-mandated referendum, East Timorese voted overwhelmingly for freedom from a 25-year occupation by Indonesia. That occupation was marked continually by serious human rights abuses committed by the Indonesian military.
Each for their own reasons, the Timorese and Indonesian governments resist bringing to justice perpetrators of the serious crimes in Timor-Leste in 1999.
In September 1999, after the people of East Timor overwhelming voted for independence from Indonesia in a UN-supervised referendum. Indonesia’s retreating military and militias terrorized, killed, and drove people from their villages. Open brutality and systematic devastation of the country’s food, water, power and other infrastructure shocked the world.
The new East Timor, however, was not free of human rights violations either. Many East Timorese returning from West Timor were abused for alleged militia links by local officials of the National Council of East Timorese Resistance (CNRT), and by members of the former guerrilla army, Falintil. Several returnees were also killed.
Local CNRT leaders were also responsible for intimidation and harassment of minorities. Some 265 Indonesian Muslims remained virtually under siege in the Dili mosque to which they had fled in September 1999. Most had been long-term residents of Dili. Congregations of the Assembly of God Protestant church in the districts of Ermera and Aileu came under attack, most seriously on June 9 when three churches were burned. The pastors were accused of having links in 1999 to an Aileu-based militia. Indonesian businesspeople of ethnic Chinese background faced threats and extortion from gangs apparently under the control of CNRT leaders. The threats became particularly pronounced after a riot in the Dili sports stadium on April 30 in which two businessmen were accused of financially backing a group seen as opposed to the CNRT.No evidence to that effect was ever produced. East Timorese ethnic Chinese were also forced to pay protection money to gangs linked to local leaders.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
DO THESE CONSTITUTE WAR CRIMES OR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY?
SHOULD ANYONE BE PROSECUTED FOR THEM?
IF SO, WHO?